Following Harassment Allegations AnimeNEXT Staffer Eric Torgersen Suspended From Event

A week ago Anime News Network reported on allegations of harassment against long time AnimeNEXT staffer and former member of its board Eric Torgersen. Back in March, a woman named Anne May posted the a detailed account of her experiences in 2015 with Torgersen to the public AnimeNEXT Facebook Group:

I have noticed the big uproar with Vic and how people have step up and came out about things that have happened. It inspired me to share my story. At this point to I am afraid to reveal my name but still I want to tell my story. I was a staffer at animenext and the conchair at the time was highly inappropriate. He was very handsy, would make inappropriate comments and even invited me back to his room. He was twice my age. It had happen many times but I ignored it because I didn't think that there was anything I could do about it. I then found out that it had happened to another girl and she told someone on staff. I guess the guy was on the board of directors or something. I didn't even know that the con chair answered to someone. I told him my story as well and it seem like other came forth to that person. The conchair at the time seem to have a type. I was even told by one of the other girls that made a complaint, that the conchair liked young asian girls the most and I think she told me that he had a wife his own age that was asian too and a child with her but yet he was trying to get me to go to his room in the middle of the night. The person I complained to told me that he took it very seriously and he would look into it and bring it to the board if it seem necessary. I don't know if that guy brought to the rest of the board. The conchair did not do anything inappropriate to me at least for the rest of the weekends but I did have some inappropriate encounters after that weekend. So I would have to make sure that I was no where near him or not in the same room as him. I heard that the guy I complained to was voted of the board right after the con and I never saw him at the con again. I also found out that, that con chair was on the board of directors. He was reelected to the board of directors and reelected conchair even after the complaints. He also still is on th board till this day. So I never said anything again about the matter. I know I was not the only one this happened to and I finally found my voice. I would hope that some of the other girls will find there voice and speak up as well. Thank You.

Anime News Network’s Lynzee Loveridge investigated the claims against Torgersen and reached out to AnimeNEXT staff. In the piece she reported:

The allegations by Anne May and other women were shared with AnimeNEXT’s head of HR and board of directors member at the time, Carlo Darcelin. Darcelin had been involved with the convention in some capacity since its inception but would leave following con’s 2015 show. Darcelin said that 2015 was the first time he’d heard allegations against Torgerson.

“It all started with one complaint that I was told while I was working the green room. A girl mentioned that she was having a problem with Eric but put in a joking manner. At first it didn’t sound like she was serious but then I got the feeling that it was true. So I asked her directly. She said ‘it is true and has been going on since the previous year.’ She thought because he is the con chair that there was no one that she could complain to. I let her know that I am on the BOD [board of directors] and that Eric answers to the BOD. So I urged her to tell me everything that happened and I would bring it up to the board. It just happen that another staffer heard us talking and said that Eric had done the same to her. Then, as if I opened a flood gate, many women came to me with their stories or stories of Eric doing this to other people,” Darcelin said.

He described the complaints as inappropriate speech, unwanted touching, inviting women under the age of 21 to drink in his room at night, or generally making women feel uncomfortable. The women involved were predominately Asian.

These incidents eventually made their way to AnimeNEXT’s board, where a meeting was held without Torgersen. Unfortunately, at the time, it was decided to merely give Torgersen a warning. According to ANN, Torgersen allegedly continued to act inappropriately though, and allowed his “BDSM-like” personal relationship with two women to bleed into his professional work.

Honestly, it’s a lot, and you should definitely read the entirety of the ANN piece.

Even though its been months since May’s public accusation, the ANN piece may have finally struck a nerve. AnimeNEXT staff took to Facebook yesterday and has now released the following official statement on their page:

While it is nice to see the event finally taking action, it’s disappointing that it took four years after the harassment was first reported to the event’s staff for AnimeNEXT to do something. As we’ve reported on other harassment incidents, a common call from a certain element always jeers that people shouldn’t take to social media and that you should just report things through official channels — but here’s a case where someone did report.

And nothing happened until they shared their story on social media.

Via Anime News Network, File 770

Trae Dorn

Trae Dorn has been staffing conventions for over twenty years, and is a co-founder of Wisconsin’s longest running Anime convention No Brand Con. Trae also writes and draws the webcomics UnCONventional and The Chronicles of Crosarth, which leads many to ask when the hell they have time to actually do anything anymore. Trae says they have the time because they “do it all quite poorly.”